*Quick Note: I am not from Cleveland, but live in Ohio, and for all intents and purposes, I feel same pain every season of every sport, hence any use of "us" and "we."
It's been almost a month since "The Decision." In the immediate aftermath, I couldn't help but reading with pleasure as sportswriters and bloggers absolutely eviscerated the Chosen One and his apparent arrogance in choosing to stage a 1-hour special devoted to taking a large dump on the city of Cleveland. It was quite a sports role reversal because that job was usually left to every other athlete in the City that Never Wins on a nightly basis.
After seeing the final result, I felt like I should update the list and article a tad. Now if you aren't reading this for the first time, and judging by the views, you aren't, you still have to put up with the same awful Superman references and a few of the same reasons with a few slight tweaks.
I was watching Superman Returns once, and in between nodding off and actually falling asleep, one thing really stood out to me. That would be the article that won Lois Lane the Pulitzer Prize, "Why the world doesn't need Superman." Now I didn't actually read the great piece of journalism, because the less I think about that movie, the better. It seems crazy to think that a world wouldn't need someone like Superman. I mean, who else could Metropolis count on to stop Lex Luthor, an evil Richard Pryor or those three people from Krypton in the space parallelogram? The article sounds completely idiotic and would simply contain the bitter feelings of a mother who watched her son's father, Superman, skip town and the planet entirely. (Sorry to those of you who haven't seen the movie, but the kid is Superman's son.)
Back to the point of the actual article. Following the brief glimpse of Ms. Lane's article, I though two things. First, maybe she should spend less time writing and more time, I don't know, eating. Seriously, someone give the woman a pretzel or something. Second, that sounds an awful lot like the situation that the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently in. It would seem absolutely stupid to think that the city of Cleveland and the Cavaliers wouldn't need King James. Granted, now no one in the state of Ohio wants James' head on a pike. Who else could possibly stop Kobe Bryant or those three Celtics from Boston that I only wish could be hurtling through space in a parallelogram? The man was pretty much the entire city had to offer sports fans. He has brought the Cavaliers from worst in the NBA in 2003 to the Finals in '07. It seemed like fate was finally on the side of the most depressing city in the United States. If the ping pong balls didn't fall right, who knows where the franchise would be or whose image would be plastered on a building next to the Q? (Darko Milicic?) Most importantly, without him, there is also no way that Cleveland is getting the 2020 Olympics. (C'mon IOC, can't you just imagine the aquatic events on Lake Erie or the Cuyahoga?) But seriously, Clevelanders have lost almost all hope in sports and the city is standing to lose tons of money. The Cuyahoga might be lit aflame for entirely different reasons this time, along with the entire city. The livelihood of the city now rests of the shoulders of Eric Mangini, which I believe has put the entire city on suicide watch.
I am going to list some reasons why Cavs fans should hold off on drinking that spiked fruit punch and that the Cleveland Cavalier franchise would actually still continue.
5. Kevin Durant
Durant is not coming to Cleveland, or helping them in any way, but he can provide hope for Cavs fans nonetheless. He received nothing but positive press after re-signing with the Thunder and announcing it on Twitter. Now this is a guy that grew up in Washington DC and prior to playing with the Thunder, had no connection to the state of Oklahoma other than torching their college teams in his one year at Texas. Yet, here he is committing his future to the team and town with the sole purpose of defeating the Heat and being an NBA champion. He doesn't want to pair up with a bunch of other stars and simply waltz to a title. Durant wants to work for it and understands the road to the top is the most enjoyable part. Unlike the Indians, the Cavaliers can hold on to their best players. People can say LeBron James is a once-in-a-generation player and he may be. But it's not as if there's going to suddenly be nothing but bad basketball players coming out of college in the coming years. Durant just provides an example that a talented player doesn't need to grow up 40 minutes away from the city he plays in to show loyalty.
4. What have they won with him?
Okay, bear with me. I am kind of grasping for straws with this one, but just listen. Like I said before, James has pretty much single-handedly brought the Cavs to Cleveland's first title since 1964, but that is only one step further in the playoffs than the likes of Mark Price, Larry Nance, and Brad Daugherty took the Cavs in the early 90s. Those were top-to-bottom good teams. They didn't have to rely on one star to carry the entire load. That conference title in '07 was great, but that doesn't end the city's title drought. The Lakers or Celtics don't brag about their long list of conference titles. Last time I checked, there's only one LeBron James. So that means that teams without James have somehow been able to win a title. Why would the Cavs have to be any different? Granted, it would take a few years, but constant rebuilding is something that many Cleveland fans should be used to. All it takes is one good draft and a free agent or two. Which leads me to...
3. Free agent classes of 2011 and 2012
A lot has been made of this free agent class. And why not, just look at the names that technically hit the open market: Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, and of course James. A team's fortunes could change with the signing of just one of those players. Or in the case of the Heat, three of those players. But look at the Classes of 2011 and 2012. While they lack the star power of 2010, they have many good supporting players. With these classes, a team could go out and sign two or three players on this list at a much cheaper price, thus building a much deeper team. I think it has been proven that LeBron can't single-handedly win a title, hence he joined Bosh and Wade in Miami. But, if the Cavs were to give James a max contract, how much money would be left over to add on to the supporting cast?
At first, this would seem the most crazy. LeBron James is only 25 years old. How could his age possibly a negative? Remember that LeBron came to the NBA right out of high school. Therefore, his body made the jump straight to the NBA. He didn't have college to adjust to what he might expect. Just look at how many years he has already played in the NBA and the amount of mileage that has been adding up on James over the years. He is at his most effective when he drives to the basket. But after seven seasons in the NBA, how many more years can he possibly be the dominating force he is now by attacking the basket? Ask yourself, are LeBron's best years behind him? A look at some of the other stars who entered the NBA out of high school would illustrate that after about 10 years, they start to break down a little: Tracy McGrady, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, and even Kobe Bryant. They all have hit a physical wall and their games have all declined in some sort. Now Kobe is still possibly the best player in the game, but even he is picking up some minor injuries and isn't the player he was two or three years ago. But as good as Kobe is, the Lakers don't revolve around just him like the Cavs did under LBJ. I feel Kobe is at a stage in his career where he is a great player, but can no longer carry a team simply on his own. Luckily, he has Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol and Ron Artest to help shoulder the load. And with Kobe, he is nowhere near the physical player that King James is. The question I ask is, do the Cavs really want to tie up that much money and years in a 7-year veteran who could possibly be past his prime in a year or two? Even James knew that the clock was ticking. He said that in seven years he didn't want to have bad knees and no title.
1. The sign-and-trade
While the Cavs did lose James, it was through a sign-and-trade. I had to look this up myself, and for those of you unaware of the details, it's when a team signs a free agent only to immediately trade him. In this case, as in every other sign-and-trade, it allowed the player, James, to sign for more money than he could have by signing with the Heat straight-up. It would be absolutely impossible for any team to offer fair value in a trade for James. But look at the trade when the Lakers got rid of Shaq. By making the unpopular trade, Mitch Kupchak set the Lakers up for where they are now. Granted, they already had Kobe, by getting rid of O'Neal opened up cap space to go out and sign other supporting players. Had the Lakers kept Shaq, would they have won another title and have the success they are having now? Now the circumstances are slightly different, but the end result can be the same. The Cavs received 2 future 1st-round picks and 2 future 2nd-round picks. With one or two good drafts, the team could have a serious future. Oklahoma City saw their fortunes change in just one draft night. While still the Supersonics (sorry, Seattle) they traded franchise player Ray Allen, which netted them Jeff Green and in the same draft, got Kevin Durant. Add in Russell Westbrook and they go from 20-62 to 50-32 in two seasons. It might hurt in the short-term, but having lost James in this situation could be great in the long-term. For the past seven years, Dan Gilbert and Danny Ferry had been building the team to win as fast as possible. For every 2008 Boston Celtics, there are multiple examples of teams mortgaging their entire future to win, with the end result of crashing spectacularly. The Cavaliers now have the opportunity to build their team the right way.
1a. LeBron James is responsible for every bad thing that ever happens, ever and may be a Nazi
I have it on good authority that James has eaten babies in his free time. During LBJ, 7-year reign as King of Cleveland, the tyrant, and let's call him what he really is, oversaw Cleveland become #1 Most Miserable City in the U.S., as determind by Forbes. He has already taken that bad luck down south with him as the Miami Heat have already laid off 30 members of the Miami Heat sales staff after tickets sold out so quickly. Not to mention what has happened to the nation's economy. Did this happen before LeBron was in the NBA? I don't think so.
Prior to his arrival, the Cleveland Indians had won 2 World Series, 5 AL pennants and 7 Central Division titles. The Browns were even more successful, with 8 league championships and 11 conference and 13 division titles. They had made the playoffs a year before the Chosen One's arrival. Since James became a Cavalier, the Browns haven't made the playoffs and the Indians won the Central just once. I mean, the numbers just don't lie. His actions have no borders, as it extends south to Columbus. The Buckeyes were coming off a dramatic national championship win over Miami. They had all the reason in the world to believe they could repeat. But following James' being drafted to the Cavaliers, the Buckeyes have lost two national title games and experienced a heaping helping of Maurice Clarett. Not to mention that one of those losses was to a university that is located in the same state as the Miami Heat! Does his treachery know no bounds? Is LeBron James responsible for Cleveland sports' failures in the past seven years? I say yes.
For my final point, I give you the date that Adolf Hitler took power in Germany: January 30, 1933 or 1/30/33. It seems to be a totally random and unimportant set of numbers, but take a scary look at the math: (1x3-0)x3-3=6. It just so happens that LeBron has chosen to change his number from 23 to 6. Coincidence? Maybe, but it's not. Oh and how about that huge rally in Miami for Bosh, Wade, and James. You know who else had a large welcoming rally? That's right, Hitler! Now is LeBron James a Nazi? I am not here to say that, but you, as the reader, can draw your own conclusions.
And that conclusion should be that LeBron James is a Nazi.